Melissa Shares Her Passion For Adventure Travel And How She Utilizes Annual Vacation To Travel the World
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This is Melissa! The adventure-seeking vegan travel blogger behind foot steps on the globe.
18th Jun | 15 min read

Table of Contents

    This is Melissa! The adventure-seeking vegan travel blogger behind foot steps on the globe.

    Her passion for travel started at a young age after a childhood spent moving around the Middle East from Saudi Arabia, Oman, and then the UAE. After returning to the UK to attend university, she graduated in 2010 with a business degree and began a career in marketing.

    In 2015, she decided to channel her creativity and love of travel into her very own passion project and so Footsteps on the Globe was born.

    Fast forward six years and 28 countries later, she now lives in Manchester in the UK working in the charity sector, specializing in marketing strategy, digital advertising, content creation, and social media alongside running Footsteps on the Globe.

    She loves nothing more than immersing herself in different cultures and exploring new places, finding adventure and the best local vegan food in every destination she travels to.

    Follow @footstepsontheglobe to stay up to date on her newest travel adventures! You can also connect with Melissa on GAFFL

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    My Inspiration To Start Traveling

    I first quit my job to go traveling in 2019 when I took six month's out to go backpacking. I’d wanted to go traveling more long-term for many years but as I was building my career in my twenties, I didn’t want to take time out at that point.

    But as luck would have it, whilst I was contracting in 2019 and getting ready to take a break, I’d reached a cross-road as my contract was nearing its end at the same time as a long-term relationship so it was the perfect opportunity to go traveling! I took what I had in savings and hit the road.

    It’s hands down the best decision I ever made and would love to take another 3-6 months break to do it all again!

    Travel Frequency And Activities I Like

    I travel as often as my annual leave allows which at the moment is 25 days a year. Before Covid, I usually took around five trips abroad a year, one big trip further afield that lasted for around two weeks, a couple of one-week trips closer to home, and a few long weekends in Europe and the UK.

    The activities I do vary depending on the trip, whether it is a nature break, a city break, or time I’ve booked for more relaxation. I’m very much an adventurer at heart though so as a general rule I love hiking and adrenaline activities mixed with museums and tours whilst searching for the best local vegan food!

    How I Plan My Next Trip

    I generally always have an idea of where I want to go next as I have a mental bucket list I’m subconsciously ticking off! But where I choose to travel to next is decided based on how long I can for and roughly how much time is needed to explore that new place to get a proper feel for it.

    The length of my trips really depends on how far I’m traveling – so the further I go the longer I will travel for.

    I do a lot of research before each trip. I short-list key places and things I want to do and then build an itinerary with the time I have. But I would always say leave some room for spontaneity. There have been many times I’ve had a set plan and then got chatting to locals or guides and ended up doing something or going somewhere off the beaten track based on their recommendations that turned out way better than anything I had planned!

    Packing For My Trips

    After living out of a suitcase for six months, I’m a certified packing expert! I’m a low-maintenance kind of person anyway which makes packing that much easier!

    I try to pack as little as possible and wash clothes where I can as I go but what I pack depends on the weather and how long I’m going for.

    If I’m away for a long weekend for example I really just pack what I absolutely need: a set of clothes for each day and a pair of shoes that are comfortable for lots of walking.

    The must-have items that I carry with me when I’m traveling to any destination (aside from essentials like my passport and camera of course!) are comfortable walking shoes that can be worn all day but are dressy enough to go out in the evening (boots are my to-go!) and leggings - they’re comfortable, can be dressed up or down and don’t take up much room in your bag.

    My Childhood Middle East Travel Experiences

    It was my childhood that actually sparked my passion for travel from an early age. My Dad worked for an international hotel chain so every 2-3 years I moved to another country as he made his way up the career ladder. I just embraced all the new experiences that each move brought and never knew any different! It felt very normal to me to move so often and I’ve always enjoyed making new friends and exploring new places.

    The longest place I lived for was Dubai in the UAE where eventually my Dad started his own business. So, we ended up settling more long-term and I spent the majority of my teenage years there before returning to the UK to go to university.

    Whilst I was living in the Middle East we did a lot of local travel, I especially loved going to places close to Dubai such as Fujairah and Ra's al-Khaimah where you are able to experience more of the natural side to the UAE outside of the bustling cities. We also took one family trip a year so I got the chance to visit Bahrain, Kenya, Venezuela, Sri Lanka, and Cyprus.  

    I was very fortunate to travel to so many places as a child but as most children do, didn’t realize how lucky I was! I hope I can travel as much with my own children so they can grow up experiencing the world as I did.

    My Favorite Destinations And Memory of Meeting New People

    I’ve visited 28 countries so far but I’m a real advocate for taking the time to get to know a country, its culture, and history as opposed to just counting countries. Travel is very much quality over quantity!

    It’s so hard to pick favorite destinations because you appreciate each place as a different and unique experience. But one place I keep getting drawn back to and would visit again and again is Greece.

    They have the most incredible ancient history so there are lots to explore, the food is always locally sourced and fresh, the weather is amazing most of the year and the people are so laid back and friendly.

    Iceland is another favorite of mine because of its beautiful natural landscape – the volcanoes, geysers, hot springs, and lava fields are insane! Iceland is like nowhere I’ve ever been before – I loved exploring the raw nature there.

    In terms of my favorite group travel memory, it has to be Amsterdam. A free walking tour turned into an impromptu night tour, then a pub crawl which then turned into partying with my fellow travelers and guide until the sun literally came up. Travelers in the group came from all over the world and it was so much fun to get to know them, hear their stories, and party with them!

    Travel Apps I Use On My Trips

    For flights my go-to site is Skyscanner - my favorite thing to do is search by date and then see what destinations I can get for the lowest price (pre-Covid of course!). For hotels, I generally use and Google direct.

    However, if I’m booking a bigger trip or a package holiday I don’t necessarily stick to specific providers or websites and like to shop around for the best deals.

    If you’re vegetarian or vegan I can’t recommend the Happy Cow app enough as you can search by location for the best food places that offer vegetarian and vegan food options. It’s also a great way to find small local restaurants that have been recommended and added by locals and other travelers.

    My Inspirations Behind Starting My Own Travel Blog

     I started blogging in 2015, at a time when a lot of big travel blogs were focusing on a way of travel that I couldn’t relate to. A lot of them wrote about fitting everything you owned into a backpack and quitting your job to travel the world. But I loved my job and my life as it was.

    I just wanted to incorporate more travel into my life and I wondered how many people felt the same way? But there didn’t seem to be a lot of blogs that offered much advice for alternative travel styles that worked around a full-time job.

    I had this thought whilst I was in Kefalonia in Greece (maybe this is why subconsciously Greece is one of my favorite countries!). I’d not traveled for a few years after leaving university so I knew this trip would be something special but I never knew it would be the catalyst in starting a second career!

    On this trip, I swam in the clearest seawater I had ever been in and experienced many firsts, including sea kayaking, snorkeling in the open ocean, and seeing wild loggerhead turtles. It was one of the best experiences of my life up to that point and I kept thinking about how much I wanted to share it with people so that they would be inspired to experience it too! 

    When I got back from Kefalonia I knew I wanted to spend as much time exploring the world as possible. Somewhere between leaving university and having a few bad work experiences, I had lost my love of travel and that trip really was the start of my adult love affair with travel!

    After the trip, I drew inspiration from countless travel blogs, books, and YouTube videos and started Footsteps on the Globe to show that anyone could travel, even with a full-time job and limited budget. There are many ways to travel the world and it doesn’t have to be all or nothing.

    Since then, the blog has evolved into more of an adventure travel blog, incorporating tips and tricks for vegan travelers since I transitioned from being vegetarian to vegan in 2017.

    My mission is to show that you don’t have to give up being vegan to follow your travel dreams and Footsteps on the Globe is here to show you how!

    How I Allocate Budget And Manage Cost While Traveling

    I do budget and manage costs during my travels. I make a list of things I want to do and see and cost them up – whether it be an experience, a tour, or a show. I book and pay for as much as I can before the trip and then give myself a daily allowance for eating out and anything spontaneous I may end up doing. I also allocate a little extra budget for anything I might want to buy to remember the trip.

    By booking and paying for as much as I can before a trip it helps me to budget more easily whilst I’m traveling and helps me to stick to the budget I’ve set.

    Some Memorable Travel Stories

    Some of my coolest travel stories and experiences come from my time backpacking in South East Asia. I traveled solo there but then met up with a G Adventures group and we traveled through four different countries over the course of a month, including Cambodia, Thailand, Vietnam, and Laos. It was honestly the trip of a lifetime with every day bringing new experiences and challenges which I loved embracing.

    I spent nine days in Cambodia, quad biking around the rural villages in Siem Reap, watching the sunrise over the world-famous UNESCO heritage site Angkor Watt and spent some time on the private island of Koh Rong.

    From Cambodia, I traveled over the border into Vietnam and onto the lively (re: crazy!) Ho Chi Minh City. We spent the next 12 days in Vietnam, going down into the secret Chu Chi War tunnels, exploring the Imperial Palace in Huế, staying in the 15th Century port Hoi An and kayaking through caves in Halong Bay. 

    Vietnam turned out to be jam-packed full of fun and new experiences. I learned how to make traditional noodles from scratch, drove a riverboat, and rode a motorbike through rush hour traffic. I also tried every vegan Vietnamese dish I could get my hands on! 

    Vietnam actually turned out to be my favorite country out of all the ones I backpacked through. I feel like I could have done the full month there easily and will definitely be going back.

    From Vietnam, we slowed it down just a little and crossed over into Laos for the next 5 days. I loved Laos because it’s a place you can tell is still a bit of a secret with its super chilled people and untouched landscape. It’s a little-known gem in South East Asia and my advice to anyone would be to experience this country before more people find out about it!

    In Vang Vieng, I kayaked in tropical rain and thunder down the Nam Song River and went tubbing in a pitch-black cave I had to lie down to get into. I also went jumping off waterfalls in Luang Prabang and visited a Sun Bear Sanctuary.

    After Laos, I spent the last few days of my trip in Chiang Mai and Bangkok in Thailand.   

    Chiang Mai was by far my favorite city. I had a one-on-one vegan Thai cooking lesson at a local culinary school, drove a Tuk Tuk across the Chiang Mai countryside visiting little-known temples, and saw the famous ‘lying down buddha’ at Wat Pho. 

    At the end of the trip, I felt like I could have traveled on for another month easily. It was an incredible experience.

    How I Manage My Work And Travel At The Same Time

    Work of course always comes first. I love what I do and I’m grateful that the skills I’ve gained through my work experience helped me to launch my blog and run it.

    But managing work and travel at the same time is all about time management. I’m still getting there! The key is making the most of your annual leave and bank holidays to enable you to travel as often as you can.

    At the start of each year, I work out where I want to go, how long for, and then establish what budget I need so that I can organize my calendar and know how much I need to save each month.

    I also try and plan these trips around peak periods in work where there are big campaigns or projects that I’m working on so I can relax and enjoy my time traveling instead of stressing that I’ve got a big workload to come back to. 

    Frictions And Challenges To Traveling

    At the moment of course the biggest challenge to traveling is Covid as the UK has had one of the toughest lockdowns in the world during the pandemic. Traveling abroad is still severely restricted and will likely stay this way until the end of 2021.

    Otherwise, the biggest barriers for travel generally are time and money - not enough leave or savings to go where we want to go! But I always say there is a destination for every budget and time you have available. You’ve just got to do your research and there are loads of fantastic blogs to help you do just this.

    Living in the UK, we’re lucky to have short-haul flights available with budget airlines so that we can go on weekend city breaks all over Europe on a small budget very easily. I always recommend this way of traveling as it’s ideal if you are limited by time and budget.

    Advice For The Female Travelers

    As a travel blogger, I’m of course a huge advocate that if quitting your job to start traveling full-time is what you want to do then go for it! Time is our only limited resource and as most people can attest to - the more responsibilities we take on in our lives the more difficult it becomes to prioritize travel.

    As long as you have budgeted enough for the duration of your trip or are able to make an income on the road, there’s nothing stopping you.

    However, if you don’t want to quit your job to travel full-time, you don’t have to! Travel isn’t all or nothing – you can still travel the world whilst working a full-time job and other commitments, you just need to find the traveling style that suits your lifestyle the best. 

    But one this is for sure - travel is never a bad idea. The only trip you’ll end up regretting is the one you don’t take!

    There are plenty of more uplifting stories to read! 

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